Frédéric Jacques Temple died on Wednesday. It is as if lightning had fallen in Aujargues, in the Gard, where he had lived with his wife for a long time. The poet, novelist and translator would turn 99 in a few days. In the retrospective anthology of his literary journey published in January (the Infinite Hunt and other poems, Gallimard), this poem sounds like an echo:
The month of my birth.
in heavy sweat.
The sour violin of the mosquito
pierces the soft night.
We must last
until the storm. ”
Born August 18, 1921 in Montpellier, Frédéric Jacques Temple (FJT) was the poet of life to the end, as he said, of existing, of looking at nature, of enjoying this planet. He often quoted his friend Joseph Delteil: “Every morning is the world’s first morning.”
“Depths of the Earth”
Young, FJT is attentive to nature, in its games in the plant garden of Montpellier and in the family house by the sea which will be “Buried” under the “False pyramids” from La Grande-Motte. The land of his childhood will be part of the material of his works. “I was born in a“ peasant ”environment and land. I do not mean that my parents were peasants, but that my great-grandparents still were. I spent my childhood close to nature, attending sowing, plowing, harvesting, shearing sheep. I fished and hunted in the coastal marshes, in the midst of wild birds, familiar to fishermen on the ponds and the sea. Between 15 and 19 years old, I even explored the depths of the earth, caves, sinkholes. . In these experiences, I relived in a way like our distant ancestors, attentive to the sounds, the smells, the movements of this earth rolling under the sun and the stars. ”
In 1942, he left for Algiers with his family, notably frequenting the bookstore of Edmond Charlot, the publisher of Albert Camus, who would also publish it, and also worked alongside Max-Pol Fouchet, Emmanuel Roblès and Jean Sénac. From 1943 to 1946, Frédéric Jacques Temple participated in the Italian Campaign, the landing in Provence and ended the war in Austria. This experience, “fracture”, marks it deeply, as evidenced by the Route de San Romano and his War poems. «We would have preferred not to do it at an age when it is the moment for man to enjoy life. Its stupidity, its horror, mark with a hot iron those who made it. “ He then embarked on journalism in Morocco, responsible for the literary pages of a weekly. After chronicling Black spring, he begins a correspondence with Henry Miller which will last until the death of the American writer in 1980. Man of letters, Frédéric Jacques Temple will maintain correspondence with Cendrars, Richard Aldington, Nino Frank, René Maran, Cilette Ofaire, George Dibbern … He donated his archives to the Montpellier media library. “It was a coincidence: I never tried to meet writers. With Cendrars, as with Durrell or Miller, we hardly ever spoke of literature ”, he said, modestly, to Release in 2012. While adding with regret that he had missed Jean Ray, dead the day before their meeting or Sylvia Beach, the day before…
Returning to France in 1948, he worked for the regional radio station and was appointed director of French television broadcasting for Languedoc-Roussillon in 1954, where he remained until 1986.
By 1940 he had started writing and publishing. “My first poems, I should say my stammerings, appeared in 1940, in local pages from Montpellier, such as The Scream, student newspaper, or Students’ Echo, then directed by René Barjavel… Awakened me to poetry, without my knowledge, poets who were mentioned or studied during my school years. I can cite a few: Rutebeuf, Villon, Ronsard, La Fontaine, Hugo. Later, it was Baudelaire, Heredia, Rimbaud. And even later, Apollinaire then Cendrars and Valery Larbaud. ” His literary admiration went to adventure novelists, Jules Verne, Fenimore Cooper, Joseph Conrad, Herman Melville, but also to François Rabelais, François Villon, Chateaubriand, Walt Whitman, Jack London, Arthur Rimbaud, Cendrars he met in 1949. He reread them regularly, like pets. Besides Blaise Cendrars and Henry Miller, he made strong friendships with Lawrence Durrell who lived near his home in Sommières, Curzio Malaparte, Richard Arlington, Mohammed Dib, Jean Giono, Pierre Soulages and Georges Brassens. He was one of the last living in a whole era.
Read also Miller, the friendly life
“Brother Jacques” as Henry Miller called him was a poet apart, with an autobiographical vein, happy verve and rippling prose. “The appetite of the world could have made a naturalist or an archaeologist out of a poet who refuses to separate formal experimentation from lived experience. Man of dialogue, he keeps away from literary quarrels and tastes “the sovereign thickness of time” more than the ruptures of antitradition. To submissive allegiance he prefers a lineage that integrates and, without recognizing himself as role models, he does not travel alone. ” (Claude Leroy, Dictionary of Poetry from Baudelaire to the present day, PUF). Grand Prize for Poetry of the SGDL in 2003 and Guillaume Apollinaire Prize in 2013, he had published with various publishers (Actes Sud, Obsidiane, etc.). He who would never have stopped celebrating happiness in the world without this final meeting, still has a collection that comes out in this native and fatal August at Bruno Doucey, By the sextant of the sun. “For eternal exile, I will carry the burning smell of the grasses trampled by the hooves on the endless drailles rustling with cowbells.”